Vaccines, vaccines and vaccines

The turnout at vaccination stations strongly contradicts a government poll that indicated 40% of citizens were reticent to get vaccinated. It seems that national campaigns have convinced people otherwise. The reality is that thousands have shown up since Sunday, 28 February 2021 when the government opened the vaccinating to the general public. The program began on 16 February 2021 with the vaccinating of around 12,500 Covid-19 front line workers and has continued with the vaccine available to all physicians and medical care providers.

The government continues to vaccinate medical staff, but on 28 February opened the program to give preference to those 70 years old and those 60+ with comorbidities and pre-school and elementary school teachers.

The Dominican Medical Association (CMD) president, Dr. Waldo Ariel Suero, got vaccinated at the headquarters of the medical association on Tuesday, 2 March. He had publicly gone on record rejecting the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. It is likely that is the one he received as batches of this vaccine were the first to arrive and were used for the health care workers. Dr. Suero had urged the Dominican government to purchase Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. There is no date for the arrival of these to the country.

The general public knows the vaccine they will get is most likely the Sinovac-Coronavac vaccine imported from the People’s Republic of China. Some 768,000 doses of this vaccines arrived in mid-February. Now, the generalized opinion seems to be: “I will take what is available.” A pro-vaccination campaign is ongoing reminding everyone that no one ever asked from where the polio, measles, tetanus vaccines Dominicans have used for decades came from to get vaccinated.

Reports are that around 105,000 persons have been vaccinated so far. Public Health Minister Daniel Rivera has said the government’s goal is to vaccinate 40,000 persons a day.

The media has focused on the long lines and chaos at capital city centers that were among the first to be announced on social media. In some, there was no physical distancing. At the Club Naco, Club Los Prados, PUCMM and UNPHU universities, reports are waits to get vaccinated were around 3 hours. It was not until 2 March that the government published the official list of 600 vaccination centers nationwide on the official VacunateRD website. Getting vaccinated at many centers nationwide, nevertheless, was said to take less than an hour.

Vice President Raquel Peña is hopeful that starting on Wednesday, 3 March people will be able to make appointments to get vaccinated on the site. As of early morning on Wednesday, the appointment section of the website was not yet working.

The media announced that 70+ prison inmates are getting their vaccinations in their prisons.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization Covax Facility has begun to dispatch vaccines around the world with Nicaragua being the first to receive these vaccines in the Central American and Caribbean region. Reports are that the DR could receive 463,000 doses this spring. No date is known.

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3 March 2021